While “Net Zero Energy” is a seemingly simple concept, in reality calculating the
energy balance of a building requires complex accounting. Photovoltaic panels produce
most of their electricity during summer days, while buildings consume energy all the
time, especially during cold nights. The Passive House Institute (PHI) takes Net
Zero to the next level by accounting for energy storage requirements and making sure
that wasteful buildings can’t simply add huge PV arrays to claim “Net Zero” status.
At a New York Passive House presentation last week, German architect Kay Künzel
presented a case study of a home automation system that prioritized using PV energy
directly instead of exporting it to the grid. For example, the system would run the
dishwasher while the sun was shining to avoid having to use non-renewable grid electricity.
PHI’s new classification takes this kind of optimization into account, in a way that “Net Zero”
In New York we are very aware that Net Zero penalizes multistory buildings in an urban
environment. PHI’s new classification system eliminates the large urban building penalty
by basing the renewable energy potential on the lot area, rather than the total floor area
of a building.
Wolfgang Feist will present more details at the 18th annual Passive House Conference in April.
See PHI’s full press release below:
3 March 2014
New Passive House categories also rate building energy gains
Concept to be presented at the 2014 International Passive House Conference
Darmstadt/Germany. The efficiency of the clearly defined Passive House Standard
has been proven with thousands of buildings – in order to also offer a reliable means
of orientation regarding the additional use of renewables, the Passive House Institute
now plans to introduce new categories. These will not only take energy demand into
account, but also energy supply through, for example, solar panels. In this way,
Passive House offers an attractive solution for the energy revolution while also serving
as the basis for the “Nearly Zero Energy Building,” mandatory for all new builds
throughout the EU as of 2021.
“A building that produces more energy than it consumes is not only possible, it is often
very sensible,” says Dr. Wolfgang Feist, Director of the Passive House Institute. The
way in which this is calculated, however, is of critical importance when it comes to
setting criteria for a standard. “A building that produces an energy surplus in summer
doesn’t necessarily have a good energy balance. Photovoltaic systems typically yield
very little energy in winter, which is exactly when the most energy for heating is used.
Therefore, the calculation only works when the energy demand itself is also very low.”
Energy efficiency thus remains the basis for the Passive House Standard. In addition,
the new building categories will rate the coverage of the remaining energy demand by
renewable sources. Taking the example of a single family home, the new “Passive
House Plus” label confirms that about as much energy is produced as is consumed,
whereas the “Passive House Premium” seal denotes an energy surplus. Dr. Feist will
present the details of these new Passive House classes at the International Passive
House Conference, taking place from 25 to 26 April 2014 in Aachen, Germany.
“The new classes view energy production in relation to the potential of the particular
building in question,” emphasises Dr. Benjamin Krick, senior scientist at the Passive
House Institute. “A single family home built to the Passive House Standard can
achieve an energy surplus relatively easily; for an apartment building it is much more
difficult, as such buildings have a far smaller roof area available per square meter of
living space. It is for this reason that the new classes calculate energy production in
relation to the ground area occupied by the building.” A future-oriented scenario in
which only renewable energies are used throughout the electrical grid serves as
reference for the evaluation.
Compared to conventional buildings, the Passive House Standard, as developed more
than two decades ago, saves an average of 90 percent of heating and cooling energy.
Highly efficient windows, ventilation systems and superior insulation of the external
walls keep Passive House buildings comfortable year-round. In winter, the remaining
energy demand can mostly be covered by passive heat sources such as the sun’s
rays. In summer, these same Passive House features serve to keep buildings cool.
The criteria of the Passive House Standard are straightforward and clearly defined.
The performance of the standard has been proven by numerous monitoring projects.
Some 50,000 Passive House units have been built worldwide. Economic reasoning
often serves as the motivation to build a Passive House: additional investments are
normally paid back through energy savings in a matter of years. A further advantage
for occupants lies in the outstanding levels of comfort Passive Houses offer, through
consistently warm inside surfaces and optimal air quality.
Benjamin Wünsch | Passive House Institute | +49 (0)6151-82699-25 | email@example.com
Green Building Conference Sets Its Sights High
June 17th, 2014 in New York City
Passive House is a building standard that promises 90% reduction in heating and cooling energy usage compared with existing building stock. Proponents of the standard cite energy savings, comfort, health, and affordability among the reasons Passive House is gaining traction among green building and energy specialists.
Translated as “Passive House” in English from the German “Passivhaus”, the name conjures an image of a wood-framed home. Though most U.S. certified Passive Houses are homes thus far, the NY14 Passive House Conference and Expo seeks to add a new perspective to this image. Register here.
New York Passive House in cooperation with the Passive House Academy has announced a one-day conference and expo for June 17, 2014 at the Metropolitan Pavilion at 125 West 18th Street in New York City. The focus of the conference will be big buildings such as multi-family, schools, stores, and office buildings – including a high-rise Passive House proposed for New York City’s Roosevelt Island by Cornell University. Presentations will showcase completed projects from around the world by leading practitioners. The event will also serve as an expo of leading products and service providers that cater specifically to the U.S. Passive House market. Both the conference and expo are focused on delivering information to building professionals.
The conference program offers 10 educational sessions running from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. The international character of this global building standard is represented with presentations by practitioners from Austria (Lang Consulting), Belgium (Architectes Associes), Ireland (Kavanagh Tuite Architects), the UK (Architype), New
York (Steven Winter Associates) and other US regions (PassivScience). Conference organizers anticipate 15 speakers in total, bringing a broad array of expertise within Passive House building field, focusing on in-depth analysis of the obstacles and opportunities Passive House building provides. Over 30 manufacturers or service providers are expected to be represented in the expo, providing a comprehensive overview of specialized products and knowledge essential for low-energy Passive House building. The expo will run from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm with an open bar cocktail reception beginning at 5:30 pm.
For building designers, builders, and owners, the NY14 Passive House Conference and Expo promises the practical context necessary to go passive. Find out more and register here.
New York Passive House
+44 (0) 161 292 1988
With the slogan “Housing for All”, the first step of an ambitious project to create a new city neighborhood “Kulturcampus Frankfurt” is underway in Germany. The developer ABG is constructing the 193 units—114 rentals and 79 condos—to the Passive House standard in a mixed-use building that includes parking and a supermarket for about $100 million.
Gregory Duncan is a VP of NYPH and principal of Duncan Architect PLLC
Registration for the 2014 International Passive House Conference (25 – 26 April, Aachen, Germany), is in full swing. An exciting line up of speakers, a vibrant exhibition and a series of guided tours to Passive House buildings are drawing Passive House professionals and stakeholders from around the world. Discounted early bird rates available until the 28 February – don’t miss out!
iPHA Members are additionally eligible for substantial discounts, especially on framework events such as the Passive House Basics course, the Specialists’ Window Workshop and the Passive House Components Workshop.
New York Passive House board member Andreas Benzing designed a luxury home renovation in Mamaroneck, NY to the EnerPHit Passive House retrofit standards. A local CBS news reporter toured the house, and you can see the video here.
Conjure an image of home. Of your elementary school. Of your office. They’re familiar. Now imagine your own Passive House. More difficult, right? But what if Passive House can describe a school, an apartment building, a factory, an office or a home? And it does. What if Passive House design can be modern, historical, vernacular, high and low design. And it can. What if the “House” in Passive House is a metaphor for all building types of every style? And it is. Then perhaps we can all imagine our own Passive House.
To help us imagine, let’s look at images in a tour through the Passive House Institute’s international Passive House Database. (The ID number links to the project page…with slight delay in connection.) Can you imagine working there, shopping there, living there? Find your Passive House in a world of Passive Houses.
Museum: 14,000 SF museum of modern art. ID 2951
Supermarket: 43,000 SF. ID 1751
Multi-family home, low-rise: 146 units, 140,000 SF 7 stories. ID 1046
Nursing Home: 100 unit, 20,000 SF. ID 3443
Health Care: 50,000 SF Health Center. ID 3824
Church: 4,300 SF. ID 0712
Factory: 55,500 SF factory. ID 3612
Sport Facility: 10,500 SF gymnasium. ID 0007
Office Building, mid-rise: 59,000 SF office building. ID 2141
Hotel: 99 rooms, 12,000 SF. ID 2341
Retail Store: 2,300 SF store. ID 3764
Passive House is young and the potential possibilities are almost limitless. Just imagine.
Building to the Passive House Standard reduces our buildings’ operational energy demand to an optimized extent through passive measures and components such as insulation, airtightness, heat recovery, solar heat gains, solar shading and incidental internal heat gains. Passive House reliably delivers up to approximately a 90% reduction in heating and cooling demand and up to a 75% reduction in overall primary energy demand when compared to our existing building stock. A Passive House may be any building type such as home, school, office, store or factory. Passive House buildings affordably and predictably provide the most resilient, comfortable and healthy interior environments.
When considering a building standard there are eleven complimentary reasons to choose the Passive House Standard.
1. It fundamentally addresses the climate crisis imperative. To mitigate the worst effects of climate change we are required to decarbonize our economies while meeting the demands of global development. Passive House does this by providing the same low energy budget to both the rich and the poor. With Passive House we can slash energy demand and maintain services in the developed world, and also build modern services in a low-energy manner in the developing world. The large scale leader in this effort is the Brussels Capital Region of Belgium where all buildings, new and retrofit, public and private, residential, commercial and institutional, will be required to meet the Passive House Standard starting in 2015.
2. It is a global building energy performance standard. While the energy standard is uniform for all, the paths to achieve it are widely varied and necessarily incorporate local climate and building tradition specific optimization. Whether the local building tradition is wood or masonry, or the climate is heating dominated or cooling dominated, hot and humid or a mixed climate, Passive Houses can and are being realized.
3. Its development is a global collaboration. With roots in the study of low energy buildings from China to Canada , and formalized and defined by the scientific research of the Passive House Institute (PHI)  - it is the active exchange of information and experiences by scientists, engineers, designers, builders and occupants, across the earth’s regions and climate zones, that is driving forward the successful evolution and implementation of Passive House worldwide.
4. It produces a predictable product. Passive House utilizes a clear methodology that focuses on optimizing passive building components with the globally validated energy model called the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP). The PHPP energy model is the key tool used to integrate all building components and systems, and serves as the basis of verification for the Passive House Standard., The PHPP’s high level of accuracy sets it apart from other design tools, allowing, for example, heating and cooling systems for Passive House projects to be confidently sized approximately 75% smaller than typical for a given building. To further insure success, the methodology may also include the use of scientifically validated and certified components, design and construction by certified architects, engineers and tradespersons, and the building may be certified by one of the currently 26 accredited certifying entities around the world.
5. It is affordable in both construction and occupancy. The methodology results in only an added overall construction cost premium of approximately 5% to 10% because the construction costs for high performance elements are substantially offset by a reduction in heating and cooling systems sizing. Typically the first Passive House projects by architects, builders and consultants may have a higher cost premium due to the learning curve and lack of optimization, but with subsequent projects and better optimization, the cost premium can progressively shrink to 5% or less and even go negative. Because the reduced energy use translates into substantially lower energy bills the cost premium should have a simple payback of under 10 years. And because the cost of borrowing the additionally required money should be less than the monthly cost savings in energy bills, the return on investment really starts in the first month of occupancy. Lower energy bills and protection from future price shocks make Passive House occupancy affordable for the long term.
6. It produces the most comfortable and healthy indoor environments. With airtightness, continuous insulation, high quality windows and other measures, Passive Houses often have the most comfortable, quiet and draft free environments. With continuous low-volume ventilation providing filtered fresh air to living and working spaces and exhausting stale air from service spaces, the indoor air is free of dangerous concentrations of typical contaminants. And unlike buildings that rely on manual ventilation, people in a Passive House can open and close windows whenever they wish.
7. It’s a catalyst for local manufacture of high-performance products. Industry has developed to serve the implementation of the Passive House Standard, first in central Europe and now globally. Typically small and medium-sized companies have developed specific products and services to cater to its growing needs. Around the world more companies are recognizing the potential of this sector and are either improving their existing products or developing new ones to cater to their local as well as regional and global markets.
8. It enables storm resilience. In the coldest weather, without power, a Passive House can achieve a safe interior temperature equilibrium of approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit indefinitely. In the hottest weather, if overnight passive cooling is available, it is also possible to maintain safe indoor temperatures for an extended period without power. This characteristic was also described in the recent Building Resiliency Task Force (BRTF) Report as Proposal #27 Maintain Habitable Temperatures Without Power.
9. It enables nearly zero energy buildings. Building specific renewable energy production can be complicated and expensive – with space requirements often making it prohibitive. With a building’s energy demand minimized with Passive House, renewable requirements become far smaller, more affordable and achievable. The Passive House Institute with the European Union is aggressively advancing this agenda and demonstrating its feasibility with the PassReg program.
10. It enables a more resilient power grid. By substantially reducing peak power demand and enabling local renewable power sources, utility system redundancies and a more robust power distribution system are possible.
11. It locks in energy savings for future generations. Unlike renewable energy production or energy saving machinery that requires active maintenance and replacement, Passive House emphasizes things like insulation, airtightness and external shading that will save energy today, tomorrow and everyday into the future without significant maintenance or replacement costs. Consequently, any lost opportunity to optimize performance with an investment in passive measures will become a much bigger future liability in our efforts to decarbonize. 
Passive House is uniquely raising our expectations of what sustainable high-performance building can be and should be. Choose Passive House.
 For more information on the Passive House Standard, see What is Passive House?: http://nypassivehouse.org/what-is-passive-house/
 See graph: http://www.cepheus.de/eng/img/ekwdiag.gif
 Find link to presentations on Brussels experience here: http://www.naphnetwork.org/archives
 History of Passive House from Passipedia: http://www.passipedia.org/passipedia_en/basics/the_passive_house_-_historical_review
 The Passive House Institute (PHI) is an independent scientific research institute based in Darmstadt, Germany. The ongoing scientific research of PHI serves as the foundation of the Passive House Standard and its global implementation. See: http://www.passiv.de/en/01_passivehouseinstitute/01_passivehouseinstitute.htm
 See PHPP in Passipedia: http://passipedia.passiv.de/passipedia_en/planning/tools
 See PHI certified components: http://www.passiv.de/komponentendatenbank/en-EN
 See PHI certified training: http://www.passiv.de/en/03_certification/04_certified-designers/04_certified-designers.htm and http://www.passiv.de/en/03_certification/05_certified-tradesperson/05_certified-tradesperson.htm
 See PHI accredited building certifiers: http://www.passiv.de/en/03_certification/02_certification_buildings/03_certifiers/01_accredited/01_accredited.php
 See “Affordability”: http://www.passipedia.org/passipedia_en/basics/affordability
 See “Thermal Comfort”: http://www.passipedia.org/passipedia_en/basics/building_physics_-_basics/thermal_comfort
 Now North American companies are coming on board to compete with the global market, creating products that can be globally exported. See http://www.casagrandewoodworks.com/windows.html
 If overnight temperatures remain hot, then comfortable indoor temperatures can only be extended for a matter of days as there is no countervailing cooling mechanism available.
 The BRTF Report was produced by the Urban Green Council and presented to Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Leader Christine Quinn in 2013 following widespread power outages and resident dislocations resulting from Superstorm Sandy. See report here: http://www.urbangreencouncil.org/BRTF/Report
 See PassReg: http://www.passreg.eu/index.php?page_id=65
 See NY Times: Bypassing the Power Grid,by Beth Gardiner, Oct 8, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/business/energy-environment/bypassing-the-power-grid.html
 Per McKinsey 2010 report, Energy Efficiency: A Compelling Global Resource, “Big gains await developing countries if they raise their energy productivity….they could slow the growth of their energy demand by more than half over the next 12 years….which would leave demand some 25 percent lower in 2020 than it would otherwise have been. That is a reduction larger than total energy consumption in China today.” Download report PDF here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ymplnlh4hcdmarl/eYOX0buqsK
The Greenest Home: Superinsulated and Passive House Design (Princeton Architectural Press)
Author Julie Torres Moskovitz is a member of New York Passive House. The book highlights 18 Passive House case studies primarily in North America and a project range of new construction and retrofit projects. The book features photographs and drawings of each project but also a technical appendix listing PHPP characteristics and slab, wall, roof details and construction photographs for each case study. There are eight NYPH members featured in the book including Dennis Wedlick, Ken Levenson, Gregory Duncan, Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects, LoadingDock5, David White, ZeroEnergy Design, and Fabrica718.
How do you think Mayor De Blasio should promote sustainable, healthy and resilient buildings?
For the first time in 12 years, New Yorkers will have a new mayor. It’s time to start Talking Transition. Talking Transition is an open conversation about the future of New York City to help shape the next mayor’s goals and strategies. Whether you’re a lifelong New Yorker or you’ve just arrived, everyone has a unique vision for this great city. Now is your chance to tell the new administration what’s important to you and your community.
Together with Urban Green Council and other sustainability leaders, New York Passive House is co-hosting a discussion on Sustainable, Healthy, and Resilient Construction on Sunday, November 17th from 10:00-11:30 AM.
Please join us to share your questions, stories, and ideas for the city’s future. The brief program will include small, intimate discussions with some of the city’s most esteemed players in sustainability, followed by highlights delivered to the entire group.
Attendees will gather in small groups and be asked to reflect on three questions:
- What are the challenges to making more energy efficient, healthy, and resilient homes?
- Why has such a small proportion of apartment and single-family homeowners engaged on these issues?
- What can the new mayor do to better engage them?
This is your opportunity to make the transition count. Please join us.
Talking Transition: Sustainable, Healthy, and Resilient Construction
Sunday, November 17th
Talking Transition Tent
Canal Street & 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013
I have now been living in our brand new passive house for 3 weeks and wish to report my first impressions:
Peace, bliss, silence, fresh air, no draft, no headache: WOW, it actually does what it says on the box!
What was a bit destabilizing in the beginning is that you do not hear anything at all: no furnace igniting like a truck has started moving in your crawl space, no wind shaken windows that squeek and quack with stressful noises, no rain hammering on the roof like if it were simple glass, no noise at all… apart from the discrete purr of the new super energy efficient Bosch fridge in the kitchen and the “cracks” of the metal flu when the gas stove kicks in.When you move into an average house, you want to understand all its noises. In a passive house, it is the other way round: the ventilation is so silent that you want to put your hand in front of the venting intake grid to confirm it is working! It is like living underwater or in a bubble where all outdoor sounds are muted. I finally can ignore lawn mowers, leaf blowers, garbage trucks, roofing works next door, and the police sirens on the Boston Post Road brought by western winds. All this noise pollution that lands on our heads without our consent is now foreign to me and I do not miss it for a second!
The second main realization is the fact that there is no draft through the windows (my blinds used to fly in front of the old 1970’s Andersen double pane windows…), no blasting air whether you use the latest Mitsubishi Mr
Slim reversible heating/cooling mini splits or just the minimum required back up heat from the designful Jotul gas stove and Myson bathroom towel rails. The ventilation system is very smooth and it swirls around the house. Even with intake venting grids literally next to the master bed, you don’t feel the airflow coming in at all. It feels well balanced and fresh. In the old house, I used to wrap myself with shawls or polar fleece blankets and sit as close as possible to the heating vent (or as far as possible from the cooling one). Our living room was useless in summer (too hot) and in the middle of winter (too cold). Half of the house was not useable most of the year: what a waste!. Now, I can sit reading a book by the huge master window without even feeling a chill. I can sit wherever I want in the house and be extremely comfortable to the point that I have to go physically outside before I go out in order to know if I need a coat!
Last but not least, the house feels super healthy: I wake up in the morning without the urge of opening a window to ventilate: my indoor air is filtered and completely replaced with fresh outdoor air every 3 hours. The air does not feel dry compared to what it was with the former heating system and my sinuses are happy which relieves me from the splitting headaches I used to wake up with. A total bliss!
When you think we had to rebuild the whole house to get those basic benefits any homeowner should be entitled to, it is mind blowing. Why not change the old way of building so that everyone can enjoy it? If you add to the bliss the fact that everything operates at the touch of a button and that, thanks to my super insulated building and solar panels, my current gas + electricity bills are $40 a month covering the uncompressible distribution cost Coned charges, then you have an idea of what it is to live in a heavenly house.
When you taste Passive House, you never go back. Trust me.
Homeowner of Mamaroneck Passive House
Editor’s note: Veronique has graciously opened her home for a tour on Sunday, November 10, as part of the 2013 International Passive House Days. RSVP here.